Disability Benefits and Incarceration

In some situations individuals who are receiving Social Security Disability benefits run into trouble with the law and become incarcerated as a result of the legal issues that they are facing. These disability recipients often wonder if their incarceration will affect their eligibility to continue receiving Social Security Disability payments or if those payments from the SSA will stop due to their incarceration. The fact of the matter is that incarceration can indeed be a reason for Social Security Disability payments to stop – but this is not always the case.

As a general rule of thumb, individuals who are disabled are not entitled to Social Security Disability benefits while they are incarcerated. This is due to the fact that the disability benefits that are provided by the Social Security Administration are intended to provide a disabled person with funds to meet their basic living expenses. If a person is incarcerated, their basic living expenses are already being met and an incarcerated individual will not qualify for additional funds from the Social Security Administration. This does not, however, mean that an incarcerated individual will have their benefits terminated immediately upon incarceration.

An individual who is receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits will continue to receive SSI payments, regardless of incarceration, if their incarceration lasts for less than 30 days. Once an individual has been incarcerated for 30 days, their SSI benefits will no longer be paid by the Social Security Administration. An individual who is receiving SSDI benefits will continue to receive those benefits until they have been incarcerated for a period of 30 days after the date of their conviction. This means the clock does not start ticking until the person has actually been convicted, so it is very possible that the individual will be receiving Social Security Disability payments while they are in jail if that person is awaiting conviction. After the individual has been convicted, however, and after they have served 30 days of jail, SSDI benefit payments from the Social Security Administration will stop.

Once an individual has been released from jail, it is possible that they will be able to resume the payment of their Social Security Disability benefits without the need to re-apply for those benefits. If an individual receives SSI payments and serves less than 12 months in jail, he or she may be entitled to reinstatement of their SSI benefits without the need for another application. If it has been longer than 12 months, however, a new application must be started.

If an individual was receiving SSDI benefits prior to their incarceration, those benefits will resume once the individual has been released as long as they remain disabled. Unlike SSI benefits, there is no 12-month rule that is applied to SSDI disability benefits.

Once a person is no longer incarcerated, it is the disability recipient’s responsibility to notify the SSA of their release if they want their Social Security Disability benefits to be reinstated. In order to have these benefits reinstated, the recipient will need to provide the SSA with proof of their release and their release date. Social Security Disability benefits can be restarted effective the month after the individual has been released from prison.